I first met Tremper Longman’s brilliantly simple (I choose the dual descriptors carefully) introduction to reading the Psalms back when I needed it most. I was preparing to teach the Psalms for the first time in a burgeoning Latin American seminary and was appropriately scared stupid.
Since then I have taught the Psalms many times and in many locations. I’ve yet to find a better English-language introduction for the serious reader of the Psalms that this work.
The strength of How to Read the Psalms, in my view, is the careful attention to the various genres or sub-genres of the psalms. It gives readers a doorway into an otherwise confusing morass of 150 poems. It draws on the best technical Psalms scholarship but it comes across to the reader as a helpful mentor rather than a technical geek. Longman also gives carefully selected and therefore helpfully illuminating examples from the Psalms themselves.
In my experience and that of many students, one comes away from reading the Psalms along side Longman’s manual both more intelligent as a reader of the psalms and more worshipful as a co-prayer with the authors of the psalms.
Though a bit long in the tooth, Tremper Longman’s introduction to reading the psalms has endured and, even better, stayed perennially fresh.